Sepi’s Story Inspires Women (and Men) in STEM

The Triangle Business Journal Power Breakfast held January 24, 2019 honored Sepi Saidi, PE, our President/CEO, as the 2018 Business Person of the Year.

As the guest speaker, Sepi was able to talk about her success in an interview style conversation with moderator Sougata Mukherjee.

Janaki Bhagat, PE, an up-and-coming Water Resources Engineer at SEPI, attended the event and found inspiration in Sepi’s story. 

“We heard about her earlier life from when she first landed in the United States at JFK and connected to RDU, how she took the path of engineering at NCSU, starting work at the NCDOT, completing her Civil Engineering degree, and all the steps in between to starting and owning her own business.

Even though I have heard her story a couple of times, I love to hear it again and again. Each time I learn new details and each time I leave feeling inspired and so proud to work for this company. Her story (like any success story) has so many setbacks but she somehow sees the positive and chooses to focus on the end goal.

One example of the positivity Sepi has which radiates through SEPI and how it is run, is when she talks about the recession. She had just started her company when the recession hit and her approach to dealing with these difficult times was to choose to “not participate in the recession.”

While some may focus on what is wrong with the situation, she found a way to focus her energy on improving the situation.

Each time Sepi tells her story, I find a new detail to take away. Today she said, you can connect with anybody, you just have to find the connection. She was talking about this in response to having nothing in common with the people around her at work (previously at DOT).

She said that her curiosity helped to grow professional relationships. The more she asked her coworkers about hunting, fishing, and their other interests; the more interest they took in her culture and interests. This idea that curiosity and learning new things about each other can connect us to one another is so true. SEPI as a whole is an example of this. We have a diverse culture and background here and thrive by accepting and getting to know more about each other.

Everything Sepi talked about today really shows in how we operate day to day, and how her company is run. She said how being bored would be the worst thing ever and she tries to keep things exciting here at work. In the year that I have been here, I can honestly say it has been one of the fastest years of my working career. We stay very busy here and I have learned a lot technically.

But having the fun activities, the lunch n’ learn presentations, and celebrating holidays and events in the office has truly made it a year with lots to look forward to.”

Lisa Lundeen, PE, a key team member of our Traffic Engineering group, enjoyed attending the event as well.

“I also love hearing Sepi’s story, I always learn something new. It’s crazy to hear how she graduated with an engineering degree with only 3-4 other women, and how much more diverse the industry has become. When I graduated, my class was probably only 10% women, and now I feel like more and more women are developing interest in the engineering field. It’s very exciting to see in a male dominated industry.

I also appreciate Sepi’s desire to never be bored. I have really enjoyed the last 1.5 years that I have been here, and the opportunities that I have been given. Everyone at SEPI truly wants you to succeed and be happy at work and are willing to help in any way they can to aide you in achieving your goals. SEPI as a company is very supportive in opportunity and growth, whether it be learning new software, technologies, or even new disciplines.”